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About us Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences Organization News PhD Defences BSS

Enhancing blended working arrangements and individual work performance

PhD ceremony:B. (Burkhard) Wörtler, Dr
When:June 17, 2021
Supervisor:prof. dr. N. (Nico) van Yperen
Co-supervisor:dr. D.P.H. (Dick) Barelds
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Behavioural and Social Sciences
Enhancing blended working arrangements and individual work

After the corona crisis: Effective and pleasurable working through blended arrangements?

Blended working is a mixture of working in the office at the employer’s site, during, or outside, regular office hours, and working remotely at other locations at various times. This new way of working is made possible by high-quality information and communication technology (ICT) that enables activities such as online consultations and meetings and digital cloud-based document collaboration. Given that employees in the Netherlands and worldwide have now had extensive experiences with both working in the regular office and from home due to the COVID-19 crisis, it can now be more reliably determined whether blended working is an attractive arrangement for the post-corona era. Sometimes it is useful, or even essential, to meet at the employer’s site, for example when there are sensitive or confidential issues on the agenda. In other cases, there is no need to physically meet because employees can - for example - work together on a document, discuss a tactical plan, or comment on a product online.

Blended working offers many advantages: employees have more control over their time because they largely determine themselves where and when they work. This control makes it easier for them to combine their work with caring for others, engaging in leisure activities, and dealing with unexpected events. In addition, blended working reduces the office space required as well as commuting and the associated environmental costs. However, blended working can also be accompanied by a lack of clarity about tasks and responsibilities, by blurring the boundary between one’s work and private lives, and by the feeling of having to be available anytime and anywhere.

This raises important questions such as: when does blended working “work” and who will find blended working an attractive way of working? Answering such questions is central to Burkhard Wörtler's dissertation. The results reported in his dissertation show that blended working is likely to be effective if managers support this new way of working by using an empowering leadership style that includes delegating responsibilities to employees, encouraging them to be proactive, and developing their skills to work independently. Further, blended working seems to suit employees who have a strong need or preference for autonomy and also those who have a limited need for structure, rules, and predictability. Given employees’ differing needs, for the individual employee to be effective, it is important that the way of working fits with – or is otherwise tailored to – their psychological profile. Furthermore, regardless of individual differences, if the work environment fulfills employees’ psychological needs for autonomy, social connectedness, structure, and competence, employees will happily go the extra mile.